Jan 26, 2023

Here is an excerpt from my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse” about involvement from family members:

After reading this book, you can see how the girls’ family played a key role in ensuring their personal safety. As we learned in Father Figure, biological family members are often the only ones with the legal power to take action on behalf of vulnerable children.

To all people reading this, please keep this story in mind if someone ever advises you that children related to you are in a potentially unsafe situation, and if you do find yourself in such a predicament, I ask that you please act quickly and do not delay becoming involved. In Father Figure, you read how Joan and I had to approach Dave’s family multiple times in order for them to take action on behalf of Lisa and Laura. While I fully commend Dave and his family now for what they have accomplished, I was concerned with the length of time it took for them to get moving at first.

While all legal process is time consuming, there were instances where I wish the family could have acted quicker. While I’m relieved to say in this case that it’s now water under the bridge, families do need to take swift action with the welfare of children at stake, whether the possible threat is coming from outside of or within the family. It is possible that family members might face some of the inconsistent or unsatisfactory responses that Joan and I had to deal with, but it is also true that the ‘family’ connection can give them a better chance at succeeding as compared to ordinary citizens in a situation like this when the possible threat is not coming from an existing family member. It can however be more difficult for family members to report and to get appropriate responses if the threat is from within the family”.

Jan 20, 2023

We often wonder how we can possibly eliminate bullying from the face of this earth. As I speak around the country about long term impact of bullying, I notice that bullying is well and alive all over the United States. Of course, there is no one answer that will solve this issue for everyone. However, one of the keys to minimizing bullying is to try and understand why bullies do what they do, and what role do bystanders play in that connection. As I described in my first book “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder”, I had a very interesting personal encounter with one of my worst bullies from the past.

What I learnt is that this specific individual turned to bullying because he noticed that (1) people laughed and encouraged his actions, thereby improving his self-esteem, and (2) he felt that he now had a recognized place in the school community. He was now known for “something” instead of just another insignificant kid in the school community.

This revealing encounter clearly indicates the significant role a bystander can have in encouraging bullying. In fact, even if the bystander does not laugh or visibly encourage the actions, just by being there and witnessing it and not saying anything causes the bully to continue his/her irresponsible behavior. Of course it would be best if a bystander can step in and try to prevent the negative behavior – but as a minimum a bystander must not laugh or encourage the actions and should simply go away from the area and report it to the school authorities.

As I continue my speaking around the country, I talk about the devastating impact bullying has had on my life so others would understand that the role of a bystander is key in minimizing bullying during school years.

Jan 12, 2023

One of the reasons there is bullying and harassment in the workplace is because there are many workers who never learnt how to work in a team environment. Most of our schools and colleges do not necessarily focus on team projects or team successes and achievements. Most activities in schools and universities are individually focused and do not allow students to learn how to achieve greater success by working together and supporting one another.

Running any kind of an organization is a team effort, and people who have learnt how to work in teams know that you cannot achieve greater success if the team is not working in a harmonious environment. These people understand that:
• Every individual is different and has his or her own strengths and weaknesses
• A team can work well only when various members’ strengths are coordinated well together to focus on overall team success
• An individual’s weaknesses should not be highlighted – instead, his or her strengths should be emphasized

A good coach knows very well that each player in his or her team is unique and that same coaching technique may not work well with all the players. Similarly a good manager knows that every employee is different and may require different patterns of managerial attention.

Jan 05, 2023

My book titled “Father Figure – My Mission to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” describes a true account story about a single mother dating a registered convicted child molester and the subsequent risks to her young children. Following are some of the suggestions I make for single mothers based on my experience with this situation:

• Single mothers must get to know a man carefully before they introduce him to their children and well before she gives him personal information about her children.
• Single moms should not give new men a lot of detailed information about their children.
• Though being targeted by a predator is never a single mom’s fault, this awareness can certainly help her to protect her kids even more.
• A single mother should do a background check on a man before introducing him to her children. When a single mom tries out relationship possibilities with new men, this should first occur outside of the home and without the children’s involvement. If such meetings do occur at the woman’s house, the children should not be present when this happens.
• A single mom should not use her children to help win her partner’s affections.
• If using online dating websites, single mothers should state in their profiles that they must get to know a man well over time before he will meet their children. This precaution would likely discourage predators who are trolling the internet looking for moms in desperate search of a dad for their kids.
• It is also advisable for a single mom not to mention the gender of her children in her dating profile. This move is likely helpful, as child predators usually have a gender preference and may pass a lady by if the gender of her kids is not easily known.

Dec 29, 2022

One of the reasons why I wrote my book titled “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer” is because I am aware that there are many employees who would put up with the harassment rather than standing up to it. Many of them are not necessarily afraid of losing their jobs – they are simply uncomfortable about the stress involved in dealing with the process.

I had worked for a number of different organizations before deciding to become an author and a speaker. And in almost all of the workplaces I have been involved with, I had noticed several employees being distressed about unfair treatment typically by the managers or supervisors. Most employees seem to believe that if they put in a complaint they will either get fired or nothing will really change even after a long and stressful complaint process.

I do understand that feeling, but I wanted to let everyone know that change does not happen until someone takes a stand. No one deserves to be treated poorly at work and the employer needs to know that this behavior is not acceptable. And it is generally easier to deal with the stress involved in the complaint process than the continued daily stress of putting up with the harassment.

Dec 22, 2022

Workplace bullying most typically happens between a manager/supervisor and an employee. We have also known reports of peer-to-peer bullying in the workplace, but that typically is not as distressing as bullying by a superior. Also, when an employee reports incidents of harassment to the ultimate employer (in a smaller company) or to the Human Resources (HR) department (in a larger company) they often do not receive the treatment that they deserve. In fact, instead of resolution of the problem what the employee might receive is more bullying from the employer and/or from HR.

Why does this happen? The following are some of the reasons:

  • Many companies do not do a good job in filling managerial/supervisory positions – they often promote people to those positions who do not have the skills required for supervising or managing.
  • They often promote employees to management or supervisory positions to reward them for their hard work as employees, but there is no guarantee that a good worker will also be a good manager or supervisor.
  • They should come up with other ways to reward a good employee so everyone does not have to be a manager to get ahead in the company.
  • Managers and supervisors often do not have the basic inter-personal skills needed to maintain a harmonious workplace.
  • Managers and supervisors erroneously believe that the only way to succeed is to maintain a strong “control” on the employees.
  • Employers and HR directors sometimes believe that it is easier to get rid of an employee rather than having to deal with his or her complaints.

Once employers and HR directors accept the fact that managing and supervising requires special skills, things will be better for the workplace environment.

Dec 15, 2022

I recently prepared a workshop proposal on the topic of “Prevention of child sexual abuse – the ethical challenges”, which is based on my second book. I wanted to share some of the questions I proposed to discuss as part of this workshop. Here is the list:

  • What kinds of changes are needed to become more effective in “preventing” a possibly abusive scenario?
    • How can you work effectively with service providers in spite of some of the existing inconsistencies?
    • How can you detect situations where immediate intervention is necessary and appropriate and what the associated legal issues might be?
    • How can you help single parents become proactive in avoiding situations that can possibly lead to abuse?
    • Should an ordinary citizen try to step in when there is an opportunity to prevent a possibly abusive scenario?
    • How can we be proactive in identifying situations where intervention is necessary and appropriate and act accordingly to prevent a possible abuse?
    • How can we make sure that our child protective services and our law enforcement services are adequately equipped to address this critical need?
    • Do our service providers truly understand the impact of child sexual abuse and are they properly trained to detect and intervene to prevent abuse?
    • How could the child protective services act differently in this story?
    • What could Law Enforcement have done differently in this story?
    • What could the family members have done differently in this story?

Dec 08, 2022

People often ask: what can parents do when one of their children is being bullied and it is affecting the child’s well-being. This is an important discussion about what options do the parents have? In fact, there are a number of things parents can do. Some of them are listed below::

  • Expect the school staff to be aware that bullying can be harmful and that they need to do something to take care of your child’s well-being. This was not the case 20 or 30 years back. But now all school staff should be aware that bullying can be extremely harmful.
  • Work closely with the school staff to make sure they do something significant to protect your child from this undesirable behaviors.
  • Let the school staff know that as a parent you expect them to maintain a peaceful environment at school where your child can learn effectively
  • Be willing to participate actively, if necessary, with the school staff to maintain a peaceful school environment
  • Most states have some form of legal requirements that the schools must adhere to in terms of prevention of bullying. Get to know those legal standards and prepare to act accordingly.
  • If nothing improves, consider taking your child to a different school where the staff truly believes in maintaining a bully-free environment
  • Most importantly, listen to your child and provide all the support he/she needs to deal with the situation

Dec 01, 2022

Why do some employers bully their employees? There could be various reasons:

• Some of them might believe that that is the only way to motivate employees
• Some might believe that because they are paying the employees’ salaries, they have full right to treat them as they please
• They feel like they might be losing their positions if they do not maintain strict control on their employees
• Some may simply have some personal issues that they do not know how to take care of. They decide to take it out on their employees to make themselves feel better
• Some may be concerned that if they don’t maintain strong control the employees might revolt against them

There may be many other reasons for employers to act in this negative manner. But their actions are misguided no matter what the reason is. The problem is likely to be more prominent in smaller companies. Most larger organizations now have well trained Human Resource Professionals who are very well informed about bullying in the workplace and are able to put in processes and procedures to minimize behaviors of this nature. However, in smaller companies this can be a real issue. Many smaller companies don’t even have a Human Resources professional, or they have someone who is not well trained in all aspects of employment issues. In the true account story in my book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer” I had to deal with an HR Director who simply was not well trained in dealing with issues of this nature. Without a trained HR professional, this can become a much more difficult problem.

Nov 25, 2022

One of the comments I made in my book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse” is that I was totally surprised with what I felt was lack of support from Law Enforcement. Here is an excerpt from my book about this issue:

“Perhaps the greatest mystery remaining from Father Figure, and the leading cause of our setbacks in this story, is the confusing reactions that we received from Law Enforcement. I can never forget how helpless I felt when we were apparently let down by the cops.

To this day, I remain utterly confused over what actually happened behind the scenes with law enforcement. From the outside looking in, it seemed as though they were plagued with discrepancies over how they should deal with the situation.

To law enforcement officers reading this, I request that you please use this most unique story as a case study for similar situations in the future and encourage your units to support more training in handling cases of Child Sexual Abuse. In a similar predicament concerning a sex offender, I certainly hope that law enforcement will err on the side of caution and choose to protect the kids. I also hope that a citizen will not feel threatened by law enforcement when he/she is reporting a good faith concern.Regardless of what rules or regulations were in place at the time, there was no justification that we could see for the local police to threaten my friend like they did. We believe that we had approached law enforcement with a very good faith concern, and nothing that we did had warranted such an aggressive response. In general we felt there was a lack of swift and appropriate response to the reported threat.

I have always had the highest regard for the law enforcement profession. However, I must admit that for many months after this situation, I had a very negative feeling toward police officers in general. Every time I saw a cop car drive by, I had a bitter taste in my mouth. Over time, I have worked with myself to instead focus on all the great officers who dedicate their lives to serve and protect us each day. Law enforcement is still one of the most honorable professions.

To all officers reading this story, please continue to restore my faith. Please use this story to do your best to look out for those children at risk.”

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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